LEXINGTON, Ky. – Longtime Kentucky men’s basketball commitment Khalil Whitney officially joined the Wildcats on Friday after signing a national letter of intent with the university.
Whitney, a 6-foot-7 athletic forward, is the sixth addition (five freshmen and one graduate transfer) to the 2019-20 roster and one of the prized pieces of another heralded signing class.
The five-star prospect – and Kentucky’s highest-rated signee in the 2019 class – inked with the Wildcats during a ceremony at his grammar school in Chicago surrounded by family members and friends. Whitney, who now lives in Roselle, New Jersey, is originally from Chicago and delayed his signing to hold the ceremony in his hometown as an inspiration to his childhood community and the children in it.
“I’ve been waiting to talk about Khalil for a long time but I know how much it meant to him to do this signing back where it all started for him,” UK head coach John Calipari said. “I’m proud of how he was able to take something that was about him and use it for the good of others in his community.
“As far as Khalil is on the basketball court, he’s long and athletic. He’s in the same mold of some of the best players we’ve had here in that he has the athleticism to impact the game offensively, yet I believe he can be a difference maker defensively. He’s an elite finisher at the rim with the ability to put the ball on the floor and drive it. Khalil, who is originally from Chicago, has watched this program since Anthony Davis won a title with us and has wanted to be a part of this program for a while. I believe he’s only scratched the surface of how good he can be and I can’t wait to get to work with him.”
Whitney is tabbed as an explosive, high-level wing with a strong motor. He’s considered a strong attacker who can beat defenders off the dribble and can knock down shots when defenses try to slow him down. Whitney’s length and athleticism provide the tools to be a potential shutdown defender at the collegiate level.
In an already strong class, Whitney is the highest rated among the five UK freshman signees thus far. 247Sports and Rivals rank him as the No. 8 overall player in the class of 2019 with Rivals tabbing him as the top small forward. ESPN has him at No. 12 overall.
Whitney earned Naismith High Schools Boys’ All-America Third Team honors this season after averaging 19.4 points and 5.7 rebounds for Roselle Catholic High School as a senior. Roselle Catholic is the same high school that former Kentucky men’s basketball guard Isaiah Briscoe (2015-16) attended.
“I chose Kentucky because it was my dream school,” Whitney said. “I feel that Coach Cal can coach, motivate and get the maximum potential on and off the court out of me.”
Whitney scored in double figures in all 29 games during his senior season with 11 games of 20 or more points. He was tabbed a McDonald’s All American and was selected to the Jordan Brand Classic. Whitney shined in the Allen Iverson Roundball Classic last weekend with 38 points en route to co-MVP honors. He also won the Allen Iverson Classic Community Leadership Award.
He led Roselle Catholic to New Jersey’s Tournament of Champions as a junior and averaged 21.1 points and 7.2 rebounds on the NIKE EYLB circuit last year.
Whitney’s dad, Kelly Whitney, scored in double figures in all four seasons at Seton Hall (2003-06) and was an All-Big East selection as a senior.
With Whitney’s addition, Kentucky has signed 52 top-50 recruits, 43 top-25 players and 23 top-10 players (according to Rivals) in Calipari’s 11 recruiting classes at Kentucky.
In every season in the Calipari era, the Wildcats have signed a top-three recruiting class according to the Recruiting Services Consensus Index, which tallies major recruiting rankings and plugs them into a formula to calculate a consensus ranking.
The spring signing period began April 17 and lasts through May 15.
UK can only comment on prospects who have signed official paperwork with the university.